WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit South Korea, China, and Japan next week in his first trip in the position for talks that will focus on North Korea and other regional issues, the State Department said on Wednesday.
Blinken, the second-ranking U.S. diplomat after Secretary of State John Kerry, will be in Seoul from Feb. 9-10, Beijing from Feb. 10-12, and Tokyo from Feb. 12-14. In Tokyo, he will make a speech highlighting U.S. economic policy in East Asia and the Pacific, the department said in a statement.
The Seoul talks will aim at continuing close coordination on North Korea issues, while the Beijing stop "reflects continuing high-level U.S. engagement with China and the importance of strengthening our bilateral relationship," the statement said.
Blinken's trip follows one to the region by Sung Kim, the U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, who last month said in Beijing he was open to talks with North Korea but stressed the need for Pyongyang to show it was willing to have serious discussions about ending its nuclear weapons program.
North Korea said on Wednesday it saw no more need to negotiate with the United States. It accused Washington of plotting to "bring down" its regime, and threatened to strike back using all its military resources.
The angry response by North Korea's defense commission came after its foreign ministry said on Sunday that Washington had rejected its invitation for Sung Kim to visit for talks.
(Reporting by David Brunnstrom; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)